Good enough

Read Part I – ‘Mirror, mirror’ here

Read Part II – ‘Reflection’ here

R:

My perfect daughter? 

Someone like me. A lady with poise, intelligence and beauty. A lady who starts her day at the brink of dawn, opens the curtains and enjoys the perched birds up on her windowsill. My home must always be clean; put everything back where it was found in its precise angle (I will always know). Keep a clean cloth in your pocket to remove any specks of dust if one saw them. I digress. My perfect daughter will start the day much like me. She will lay out her day dress the evening before and come down in the morning, trimmed and farded. 

I had been given with what I had not wanted some years ago. She had all the intelligence, and if she tried, her beauty and poise would glow. I had been given a daughter I did not want, and I was to live with her until her adulthood. I thought through her teens she would begin to glow. To my disappointment, such thing did not happen. There were times when her face was in desperate need of freshening up – maybe some colour to the eyes, some rose to the cheeks – but she would not let me touch her. Instead she was consumed in her books, her writing. Much like I used to be. Her hair was unkempt, her nails seldom painted and her bedroom always a mess. 

I must admit that she is not completely full of flaws. She taught me ever so much, since being given to me. I found it difficult at first, as my upbringing was completely different, and frankly I am a little difficult to persuade. The good news is that I no longer live my life in the past. She taught me to leave my regret, my anger and sadness and start living everyday as if it were my last. I no longer worry what others think of me; how I look or speak. She taught the value of beauty both inside and out. She made me realise how empty, vain and narrow I once was, and why I was disliked by so many. She was once the bane of my life but now I wish to be just like her, my imperfectly perfect daughter. 

C: 

What is a perfect mum?

Exactly like mine, no doubt about it. She’s awake everyday by 5am and plays her radio loudly. It used to drive me insane, but I learned to sleep through it soon enough. When I eventually get up and make my way downstairs, our breakfast is always laid out on the table and next to it, our pre-packed lunches for the day – with a drink and a homemade snack. She was never into processed foods. I longed to be awake by dawn every morning, but my lazy manners did not agree with me – mum always hated me for that, I hated myself too – but she doesn’t know. 

She gave me a lot of grief during my childhood and teens, but it’s understandable. I was awfully big, unkempt and overall just ugly. There were pictures of her at my age, hung up proudly in grandmothers home. She was the opposite of me. She was beautiful. And intelligent too. She was going to be a doctor before I came along, which is probably why she was always so disappointed in me. She preferred my sibling, I just knew. Why? They were more like her. 

I was tormented for a long time. God gave you hair, brush it. You were blessed with lovely long legs, show them off. In all honestly, I preferred being comfortable. She hated it. She tried to change me but failed. She asked other people to change me, they all failed. I wish I had been a little more cooperative though, as I may have looked a little beautiful today. She has her flaws, yes I know. But she gave up everything to look after me. She’s allowed to hate me, I owe it to her. 

Something unusual happened one day. I broke my mirror and she bellowed at me, leaving me to spend the night in tears. I decided to ignore her for the week; on the second day, she called me up to her room as if nothing had happened. She asked me to teach me my philosophy of life. And I did. She stayed silent after I finished and I left the room. 

Why is my mum the most perfect of all?

The next day she apologised. 

That cake shop down the road

I saw her the other day  

in that cake shop down the road.

Mum’s old friend, or should I say

the wife of mum’s old friend?

Or should I say

the wife of mum’s old special friend?

The one who came over when dad was working.

I saw her the other day

standing with her daughter next to that cake shop down the road.

She saw me too but turned away,

probably mistaking me for mum.

Most people do anyway.  

I saw her the other day with her daughter.  

She’s all grown up now; maybe six, seven, eight?

Wearing glasses now, ‘How ironic’

I thought.

He used to tease me about my glasses.

I saw him last at the cake shop too, 

after everything was over.

Mum had taken us there for a treat,

I wanted chocolate cake.

They saw each other and nodded.

It started when they exchanged numbers at church.

He first came over to build a wardrobe with dad.

Mum cooked for him and he went home.

He came again the next day and the day after that

and everyday after that.

Mostly when her or dad were working.

They told us it was a play date but didn’t say who for.

Mum came to sleep in my room one day.

I was woken up to the sound of her talking

to him.

That’s when I knew

that our perfect family was ruined.

Dad found out a few months later.

I saw her the other day,

working in that cake shop down the road.

The door chimed as I walked in.

She stopped. For a second she thought I was mum.

I asked her for the chocolate sponge.

She slid the window open to cut me a slice

and said nothing.

I paid the vendor and left.

Then I heard a quiet voice behind me.

“Have a nice day.”

This poem was submitted by Laura Persson from Sweden.